Optical illusions have always fascinated people. They are a perfect way to remind us that nothing is as it seems and that sometimes, we should not believe what our eyes initially communicate to us. In an optical illusion, what we are seeing disagrees with physical reality.
Aude Oliva, a cognitive scientist from MIT, explains:
“The human brain is really tuned to learning new things. Anything that is new and surprising is something we naturally like because it means that we may learn something from it.”
Optical illusions use various colors, light, and patterns to confuse the brain. Our mind tries to interpret the sight our eyes see, and thus creates a perception that doesn’t match the real image in front of us.
An image has recently gone viral online, demonstrating an illusion called the “Coffer Illusion.”
“Coffer” is an architectural term used to refer to a series of sunken panels in different shapes. It belongs to a large class of illusions where a two or three-dimensional object can be observed in two or more dramatically distinct ways.
This image is a creation by Anthony Norcia, a vision scientist at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute. It was a finalist in the 2006 Best Optical Illusion Picture of the Year contest, organized by the Neural Correlate Society.
It has been originally posted a few years ago, by Nicolas Johnson, a magician, and entertainer who educated children on the science of deception and the mind.
At first glance, you get the impression that the image shows a group of rectangles, but later, you notice the circles in it. After you find the 16 circles in the photo, they are all you can see.
Our brains are wired to see closed shapes. The combination of the vertical and horizontal stripes creates a mind-bending interpretation.
Relatively Interesting explains the Coffer Illusion “plays on the fact that the visual brain is heavily geared towards identifying objects. ‘Pixels’ are grouped to form edges and contours, shapes, and finally objects.”
Twitter users loved the image, and many of them claimed they cannot see any circle, while others noticed them by shifting the focus.